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Aldona at Large: Fun in the Sun

Woman to Woman Luncheon in the Garden committee chair Kathy Dembroski with fashion show models

Last week was a Big One in our events calendar. Thursday was the day of our second annual Woman to Woman Luncheon in the Garden, and the weather was looking decidedly iffy. The online forecast warned of thunderstorms and lightning (very, very frightening) and on Wednesday afternoon, we had a major downpour. Glumly, I packed my rain boots and a big umbrella in the trunk of the car. Should I Scotchgard my straw hat, and maybe my face?

Then miracle of miracles, Thursday morning dawned and the sun appeared, as did our smiles. Staff and volunteers turned out super-early to put the finishing touches on the gardens and grounds, set up and dress the tables, silent auction, and boutiques. We then cleaned up and donned our best bibs and tuckers (whatever those are), and got ready to welcome our guests. Our sold-out event couldn’t have gone better, nor been more fun. Here then are a few of my happy snaps:

Garden scribblers Sonia Day and Lorraine Flanigan share a laugh.

The well-attended dessert tent—declared to be a calorie-neutral zone for the day.


A few of the temptations within.

Committee member Penny Richards strolls through the gardens with one of her daughters and Paul Zammit, our Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture.

Coloratura Soprano Charlene Santoni with fashion models on the Spiral Mound.

Looking as pretty as a picture are W2W Committee member Colomba Fuller, TBG Events and Facility Manager Paulina Cadena, and TBG Director of Development Claudia Zuccato Ria.

The judges and winners of the hat and fascinator competition.

After the guests had departed, staff members kicked off their shoes, stepped into the Water Channel, and raised a toast to a wonderful day. (Hmm. Calorie-neutral desserts, my eye. Could it be time to purchase the dreaded…shapewear? Yikes.)

Many thanks to our Woman to Woman Luncheon in the Garden committee and generous sponsors and supporters, listed here. And to the judges of our hat-and-fascinator competition: fashion maven Wendy Bannerman of Bannerman’s, writer/photographer Janet Davis, dance icon Rex Harrington of the National Ballet of Canada, and Danny Sinopoli, style editor of The Globe and Mail. Last but not least, a huge thanks to staff and volunteers who put forward an extraordinary effort to make this event a success. To see much better photos of this super event, taken by professional photographer Glen Reichwein, click here.)

More Fun, More Sun

My goodness, what a busy fortnight it’s been. I’m gasping for breath just thinking about it. Before we get to Through the Garden Gate, here are a few snaps from my engagement calendar:

Judith Blacklock Wows Rapt Audience

World-renowned British floral designer Judith Blacklock, with Canadian floral design superstar Margaret Taylor

Many of you know that I have been studying flower arranging and have completed four courses as I work my way toward a Certificate in Floral Design through the program offered at the TBG and headed up by the super-talented Margaret Taylor. A good crowd turned out for the last Edwards Lecture of the season on May 31, which featured world-renowned British floral designer Judith Blacklock, who gave a fascinating talk on Modern Floral Design. To illustrate some of the points made by Judith, Sue Clarkson, Ursula Eley, Rosemary McLean and Margaret Taylor created large, fabulous arrangements displayed on the stage (these photos don’t do them justice, click on image for a full view).

Thanks to Sue Clarkson, Ursula Eley, Rosemary McLean and Margaret Taylor for their beautiful work.

Another highlight of the evening was a juried competition in several categories for students who, like me, are working toward their certificate. I chose to enter the spring bridal bouquet category.

Margaret: Aldona, you were the only person to choose that category.

Me: (Excitedly) Does that mean that I automatically win???

Margaret: No, that means we’ve eliminated it. So how about entering Water Viewing instead?

Me: (Wistful sigh.)

My friends know that I will never be described as a minimalist. I like big, bouffy, messy bouquets, colour, texture, stuff. I’m with Toller Cranston, who once said, “more is more,” and a water viewing arrangement is about as close to Ikebana as you can get. Still, I set about my task.

So imagine my astonishment when I won the first place ribbon in my category. (And before you yell “fix!” it was a blind judging.) You can’t win ‘em all (but you can win some).

Of course the overall “best in show” had all the elements I like: colour, drama, massive bouffiness. Of course.

Master Gardeners On the Loose

Brave Veronica Callinan invited all the Toronto Master Gardeners to her place for our last meeting (read: party) of the season, and we all had great fun roaming through her beautiful garden. Once again, the weather forecast was dire but turned out lovely.

Here, Veronica proudly holds up her Backyard Habitat certification, meaning that her garden is habitat-friendly. It’s Master Gardener-friendly, too.

Our outgoing TMG coordinator Janet Ballantyne, left, was joined by incoming coordinator Tena Van Andel, who seems to be wondering, “what have I gotten myself into?” or perhaps simply praying for divine guidance. You’ll do great, Tena.

Through the Garden Gate: Resplendent Rosedale

Beautiful blues: lobelia, left, and plumbago

Despite more iffy weather forecasts, the weather was mostly great for last weekend’s 25th anniversary tour of 20 private gardens. On Saturday, I had hoped to trot around to see them all, but ended up helping out both days instead. Never mind, the gardens I was stationed in were lovely, and it was great fun talking with people and playing “stump the chump.” Some plants in one of the gardens had all the experts scratching their heads. I love when that happens! Many, many thanks go to the Through the Garden Gate Committee, and to Toronto Master Gardeners and countless volunteers for all their help and support for this important fundraising weekend.

Golden full moon Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)

As I was just in two gardens, my happy snaps are limited, but you can see some fabulous photos of Rosedale Gardens, taken by Paul Zammit, by going here. Adios until next time, cherubs!

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